December 22, 2006 - Posted at 3:30 p.m. CST
Jonesboro, AR - Today is the shortest day of the year, and that lack of daylight has some feeling down. Add to that the holidays, and it could lead to more than just a case of the Holiday blues.
Dr. Bert Price, a Psychologist with St. Bernard's Behavioral Health, says there's an actual disorder that explains why people get sad on those dark, winter days.
"SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression which is triggered by a decrease in sunlight. Usually these are people who get sad when the fall starts to come int and this is a recurring pattern so they are used to feeling bad during the holidays and the dark time of the year."
SAD usually affects people who live closer North, so that may not be the only reason you feel depressed during the holidays.
"A loss of a loved one, the pressure to be happy and perky with family and friends, and the end of another year can all be factors that lead to stress and depression. Two ways to tell if you are depressed is if you are having a lack of sleep. If you wake up early and then can't go back to sleep. Or the other is a loss of pleasure in things you like to do, just a persistent joylessness that pervades everything else."
Dr. Price suggests giving yourself some free time to release stress.
"Be careful not to schedule too many parties, be careful about drinking too much, and give yourself breaks, if you need to get away from the hub-bub of the family, make sure you have a place to go."
If depression symptoms last longer than just the holidays you may need to seek professional help. Below are a few suggested links for information on depression.
National Mental Health America - Holiday Depression www.nmha.org